Fresh From a Bye Weekend, Bears Resume Pac-10 Play Against Arizona State

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The Cal women's gymnastics team heads to Tempe, Ariz., today at 6:30 p.m., where the Bears resume conference competition against No. 24 Arizona State following a weekend off.

What a timely break it has been.

Cal (0-7, 0-3 in the Pac-10) has been slowed by several key injuries this year, the most notable being that of Jessica Kelley. A 13th-place finisher in the all-around at the 2008 NCAA West Regionals, the senior has been out for the season since the opener.

Bridgette Glass, currently ranked 13th on the balance beam, just made her season debut in a Feb. 1 tri-meet against Illinois State and Washington, while senior Joanna Bennett has also been working her way back.

"We're all healthy now Bridgette is competing in all four events (against ASU)", said head coach Cari DuBois, who noted that the team is taking advantage of the break to work on flexibility and conditioning.

The bye also comes on the heels of four straight weeks of competition to begin the season, including tilts against three top-10 squads. Cal traveled to Corvallis, Ore., for a tri-meet with No. 10 Oregon State and No. 7 Arkansas on Jan. 16 before taking on second-ranked UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.

But amid the challenging schedule and adversity, the Bears showed improvement even in a losing effort against the powerhouse Bruins. Bennett, junior Sophia Hocini and sophomore Avery Gee posted scores of 9.800 on the balance beam, while all five of Cal's participants in the all-around earned career-high marks.

And in its most recent home meet, Cal scored season-bests on the beam (48.575) and floor exercise (48.500) to help post the highest team total of the season (190.950). Glass' debut, although in just two events, had an immediate impact as she posted team highs of 9.850 on the beam and 9.825 on the bars.

The Bears will face a challenging and equally tested opponent in the Sun Devils (0-3, 0-2), a team that has been a perennial conference contender under long-time coach John Spini, who is now in his 29th year.

Like Cal, Arizona State has already faced three consecutive top-15 squads early in the season. ASU scored a 194.475 in the opener against Missouri, but was edged during the final rotation. Leading up to the showdown with Cal, the Sun Devils have also taken on the Bruins and Beavers, as well as No. 6 Stanford.

Arizona State comes in ranked 17th in the country on the beam, led by senior Nicole Harris, who remains one of the country's top beamworkers at No. 8. ASU is also 22nd nationally on the vault, led by sophomore Beate Jones, who has just entered the top 25 in the event after posting a career-high 9.9 twice this season.

Going into Tempe, DuBois said the team plans to execute more complex routines as she looks for Cal to further improve the overall team score.

Said DuBois: "If they are aggressive, attack their routines with confidence and keep their focus and energy on their performances, they will without a doubt show everyone what they are capable of."


Contact Ed Yevelev at [email protected]

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